Classical concert series in Denver replaces wine and cheese with pot and brownies

A symphony performance this month in Denver will launch on a high note as joints and marijuana brownies will replace the wine and cheese more typical of such classy events.

Searching for a new audience and struggling with diminishing financial support, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra is selling $75 tickets to what it’s calling “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series.” The three fundraising concerts, to be held at a 250-person capacity art gallery, will be bring-your-own-cannabis events. Sixty-five tickets were sold in the first day.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for the symphony to satisfy two of its needs: to reach a younger, more diverse audience and raise money,” said Jerome Kern, the symphony’s chief executive. “We’re not passing judgment on whether smoking marijuana is a good or bad thing.”

Some traditional symphony-goers have derided the series, announced last week, as a sign of desperation and vowed to stay away. But symphonies and orchestras across the country are turning to gimmicks, including webcasts, discounts, music from video games and collaborations with pop artists, to compete for the attention of young listeners.

Colorado’s effort could not only boost symphony coffers, but also help to redefine marijuana’s image.

Attendees of the “Classically Cannabis” series may smoke marijuana, or regular cigarettes, on an outdoor patio attached to the gallery. Food and alcohol will be served, and guests are being encouraged to use a ride-sharing service such as Uber, taxis or public transit instead of driving themselves.

Event planner Jane West said the series came together quickly after some members of the symphony’s fundraising team attended one of her upscale bring-your-own-marijuana events last month. They thought having some symphony ensembles play at one of these events would be perfect, West said.

Through her company Edible Events Co., West has sought to squash the image of marijuana as a drug only used by lazy teenagers. West, who prefers pot to wine, said marijuana helps deliver better awareness of the tastes of food and the sounds of music.

“This is all about promoting adult, responsible cannabis consumption,” she said.